Breaking ground for Saddleback @ ATEP

South Orange County Community College District Trustees, Chancellor Julianna Barnes, and Saddleback College President Elliott Stern preparing to break ground for the new Saddleback @ ATEP. Anna Casper | Lariat

Optimistic South Orange County Community College District Trustees, Chancellor Julianna Barnes and Saddleback College President Elliott Stern broke ground for the new Saddleback @ ATEP campus at the Advanced Technology and Education Park in Tustin, CA on March 1.  

A site that will foster amazing and fulfilling careers for students in the areas of auto technology and culinary arts,” said Terri Rydell, board of trustees vice president.On behalf of the board of trustees, we are proud to know that the goals established almost two decades ago, are being met through the hard work and dedication of the staff and community partners.”  

This building is as, technologically sophisticated” and as ready for the future as it can possibly be, Saddleback College President Elliot Stern said. 

Students who are able to stay up to date with the latest technological advancements will be able to improve their knowledge of different fields and develop new skills that they can use in the future,” said Alexander Lim, founder and CEO of Cush Technologies. These students will also be more likely to find a job because they will have a very good understanding of the latest trends in various fields and be able to help companies become more efficient by knowing how new technologies can be used for various purposes.”  

This facility will serve the auto techs of the future and help upskill current auto techs whose skills will become obsolete if we are not there for them,” Stern said. This facility will be different than other auto tech training facilities. The bays are larger, higher ceilings, they allow for things like testing of lasers and sensors to make sure that we can serve the vehicles of the future.” 

Based on where Saddleback @ ATEP is located, there are a variety of automotive groups in the area: Rivian, Jeep, Toyota, Mazda, Ford, Infiniti, Chrysler, Cadillac, Hyundai, Nissan and Lexus. The connection to these groups is part of what Peter Lindstrom, automotive instructor at Saddleback College, feels will help the program grow.

“It’s expansive, it’s going to bring us closer to the technology that is here in Irvine, so we are going to be closer to many of our dealerships, many of our industry partners, for example,” he said. “It’s going to give us a new breadth on the technology. We are going to get new lifts, we are going to get new classrooms, more extensive classrooms.”

The culinary department is another addition that the Saddleback faculty and staff are looking forward to because it will be providing extra space and hands-on experiences for the students.  

The culinary facility, we will be moving 160 students from a portable building, in what we euphemistically call ‘the village’ on our campus, to state-of-the-art culinary facilities, unlike any other in the region,” Stern said.Four hotel-sized kitchens in the midst of this training facility.” 

Each year, there are around 50,000 students receiving education between both Saddleback College and Irvine Valley College, and more than 2,500 faculty and staff members, according to The South Orange County Community College District website. 

I remember coming to ATEP for the first time,” Barnes said. It was just a beautiful experience, particularly understanding the vision and the planning that it took to get here in terms of bringing business and education together to contribute to this community.”